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Friday Speed Read: Family Leave, Uganda, David Cicilline, John Kerry, Presbyterian Church, Gaydar

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

LaborOBAMA MOVES ON FAMILY LEAVE:

The Department of Labor will announce this morning that it will propose regulations on the Family and Medical Leave Act to clarify that an employee is eligible for FMLA leave to care for a same-sex spouse even if the employee lives in a state that does not recognize marriages of same-sex couples.

U.S. PENALIZES UGANDA:

MuseveniA spokesperson for the National Security Council announced Thursday that the U.S. is taking action in response to the Ugandan government’s enactment of its Anti-Homosexuality Act. The statement from press spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the U.S. would deny entry to the United States by “certain Ugandan officials involved in serious human rights abuses, including against LGBT individuals.” It said the U.S. would also discontinue or “redirect” funding for the Ugandan police, health ministry, and public health institute. A separate White House blog statement identified $5.4 million in discontinued or redirected funding but said the Obama administration would not identify which individuals would be barred from the U.S.

CICILLINE INTROS BILL: Cicilline

Openly gay U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RIs) introduced a bill Thursday to bar from the U.S. any foreigner who has “committed or incited gross violations” of human rights of LGBT people. Four of the seven openly gay members of the House signed on as co-sponsors: Reps. Jared Polis, Sean Maloney, Mark Pocan, and Mark Takano.

NOT JUST ANOTHER SPEECH: Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to go above and beyond the call of duty Thursday in delivering remarks to a Pride event of the in-house group Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFFA). Kerry spoke at length and answered some tough questions. He lavished praise on GLIFFA President Robyn McCutcheon, most recently a foreign service officer in Bucharest. In the Q&A, two GLIFFA members noted that they’ve seen resistance by many countries to issuing a visa to their same-sex spouse. “This is a serious obstacle that is hurting us in our careers and hurting our families,” said one member. Kerry said he has instructed U.S. embassies “to inform governments locally that this is our policy and that they need to honor our policy….And where they don’t…at some point in time, we may have to begin to make it clear to them that that can affect one program or another or the choices that we make. It’s not going to be a normal relationship.”

PRESBYTERIANS VOTE ‘YES’: Presbyterian

The governing body of the 1.8 million-member Presbyterian Church USA voted 371 to 238 Thursday to allow their clergy to conduct wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. The denomination’s General Assembly, meeting in Detroit, also voted 429 to 175 to amend its governing constitution to define marriage as a “unique commitment between two people.” The constitutional change requires ratification by regional presbyteries. The clergy-ceremony vote takes effect Saturday.

WHEN STRAIGHT PEOPLE TRY TO OPERATE GAYDAR: Eric_cantor

Here’s what former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, said to a National Journal reporter when asked for his reaction to Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s recent primary loss: “…men in the South, they are a little effeminate….They just have effeminate mannerisms. If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say—and I'm fine with gay people, that's all right—but my gaydar is 60-70 percent. But he's not, I think, so I don't know. Again, I couldn't care less. I'm accepting." Schweitzer later apologized for his “stupid and insensitive remarks.”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer: Eric Cantor Sets Off My 'Gaydar'

Fromer Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer says Eric Cantor sets off his 'gaydar', the HuffPost reports:

Eric_cantorJournalist Marin Cogan, who profiled Schweitzer in National Journal, phoned the former governor on the evening of Cantor's stunning defeat in the Virginia GOP primary this month. Though Cogan's article doesn't say whether Schweitzer commented on Cantor's election loss, he did share his thoughts on Cantor's sexuality.

"Don't hold this against me, but I'm going to blurt it out," Schweitzer is quoted as saying. "How do I say this ... men in the South, they are a little effeminate. They just have effeminate mannerisms. If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say -- and I'm fine with gay people, that's all right -- but my gaydar is 60-70 percent. But he's not, I think, so I don't know. Again, I couldn't care less. I'm accepting."


Rep. Eric Cantor to Step Down as House Majority Leader

Following his primary loss to Dave Brat last night, Rep. Eric Cantor will step aside as House Majority Leader, the WaPo reports:

CantorHouse Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) plans to step down from his leadership post by the end of July, setting off a weeks-long scramble for the chamber’s number two job, according to three Republicans familiar with his plans.

Cantor will formally announce his plans later Wednesday in a meeting with his House Republican colleagues in the basement of the U.S. Capitol.

And although House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is technically next in line for succession, there are others who want the job:

Friends have advised him to expect a challenge for majority leader from Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. McCarthy and Sessions are longtime foes, both having run for whip in 2010, with McCarthy besting his older opponent. Ever since, Sessions has been eager to challenge McCarthy and is telling colleagues that an older, more conservative hand is needed near the top, aides said.

With McCarthy seeking to climb the leadership ranks, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), the chief deputy whip, announced to his inner circle Wednesday morning that he will run for whip and throw his support behind McCarthy as majority leader.


Cantor Concedes, Brat Praises God in Victory Speech: VIDEOS

Cantor

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor conceded the shocking loss of his Virginia House seat to Tea Party candidate Dave Brat. Meanwhile, Brat thanked his supporters:

"In the bad times I know where I went when things went bad. I went to God and I went to my family and this little note was hanging on my door every day and I read this every day. Luke 18:27. Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.'"

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

The larger implications of this contest include the end of immigration reform and more pressure on Obama to exert an Executive Order on that issue, a fractured Republican party, and the newly wide open race for House Speaker.

Brat

Continue reading "Cantor Concedes, Brat Praises God in Victory Speech: VIDEOS" »


Wednesday Speed Read: Wisconsin, Eric Cantor, Adam Ebbin, Ryan Fecteau, Alabama, Obama

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

WisconsinSEVENTH CIRCUIT CONSIDERS WISCONSIN:

State officials and attorneys representing same-sex plaintiff couples have been given until 5 p.m. today to file briefs concerning the state’s request for an emergency stay of a federal district court decision last Friday, striking down Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports the state office of vital records is not processing marriage licenses for same-sex couples until it gets a go-ahead from the state attorney general.

CantorERIC CANTOR LOSES PRIMARY:

In a surprise upset, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost his primary Tuesday for an eighth term. According to various media in Virginia, winner Dave Brat, an economics professor at a small college, hammered Cantor on his willingness to raise the debt ceiling, end the government shutdown, and support some reform of immigration laws. Brat has rebuffed characterizations of himself as either a liberal or as a Tea Party member. His campaign website states that he believes “all individuals are entitled to equal rights,” but it also says, in bold letting, that Brat will “protect the rights of the unborn and the sanctity of marriage, and will oppose any governmental intrusion upon the conscience of people of faith.”

EbbinGAY CANDIDATE LOSES IN VIRGINIA:

Openly gay Virginia State Senator Adam Ebbin placed third in a 10-candidate field in the Democratic primary to replace U.S. House Rep. Jim Moran from northern Virginia. Ebbin garnered almost 14 percent of the vote compared to winner former Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer’s 46 percent. A former aide to Barney Frank, Mark Levine, took seven percent. Beyer is considered generally support of equal rights for LGBT people. His campaign website expresses support for “full equality.” Oddly, it also promises that Beyer would “work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.”

GAY CANDIDATE WINS IN MAINE:

Openly gay Maine State Rep. Ryan Fecteau breezed to victory in his Democratic primary Tuesday, winning 65 percent of the vote to represent his district in the middle of the state.

Aaron-brushACLU FILES LAWSUIT IN ALABAMA:

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court in Alabama Tuesday, challenging the state’s refusal to recognize marriage licenses obtained by same-sex couples in other states. The lawsuit, Aaron-Brush v. Bentley, is the third lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying.

FUMBLING FOR AN ANSWER:

ObamaDuring a student-oriented Q & A on Tumblr Tuesday, President Obama seemed to struggle with a question about securing equal rights for transsexual students. The question posed to him –through the moderator, Tumblr President David Karp -- noted that, just last month, the U.S. Department of Education released guidelines to clarify for schools receiving federal aid that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination “extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.”

“What do you see as the next steps to ensure equal treatment of trans people in schools in America?”

The president began with a rambling recollection of his meeting Monday with the men’s and women’s basketball teams from the University of Connecticut, noting that Title IX has helped make college women athletes competitive and mentioning that the First Lady puts him to shame when they work out together, before eventually landing on one sentence: “The fact that we are applying [Title IX] to transgender students means that they are going to be in a position to assert their rights if and when they see that they are being discriminated on their college campuses, and that could manifest itself in a whole variety of ways.”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Defeated by Tea Party Challenger in Primary

Cantor

House Majoriy Leader Eric Cantor has lost the Republican primary for his House seat, the AP reports:

Economics professor Dave Brat won a stunning upset victory against Cantor on Tuesday in the 7th District Republican primary contest, which is in the Richmond area. Cantor is the second-most powerful member of the U.S. House and was seen by some as a possible successor to the House speaker.

Wow.

The WaPo adds:

Brat’s victory gives the GOP a volatile outlook for the rest of the campaign season, with the party establishment struggling late Tuesday to grapple with the news and tea party conservatives relishing a surprising win.

“This is an earthquake,” said former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber, a friend of Cantor’s. “No one thought he’d lose.” But Brat, tapping into conservative anger over Cantor’s role in supporting efforts to reform federal immigration laws, found a way to combat Cantor’s significant financial edge.


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